Kenya dedicate Elgon Cup first leg to Situma and Francombe

By francis marangu
Jun 01, 2021
  • Simon Muniafu has earned a call up to the national team which leaves on Thursday for Kampala, (File Photo)

  • James Kang'ethe (with ball) and Nato Simiyu (10) return to the national team after a long absence. (File Photo)

Eric Situma and David Francombe, two former Kenya rugby players who recently died in separate incidents will be honored by the rugby fraternity this weekend.

To honor them, the Kenya Rugby Union has cancelled all the Enterprise and Mwamba Cup matches scheduled for this weekend to give players, fans and the larger rugby family time to remember the players.

But, the first leg of Elgon Cup between Kenya and Uganda will go on in Kampala as scheduled. The only difference is that the Kenya team will dedicate the match to Situma and Francombe.

Wangila Simiyu, the Kenya team manager said they will dedicate the match to Situma and Francombe. “They have helped a lot to develop rugby in the country,” he observed.

Ronald Bukusi, the KRU CEO paid tribute to Situma and Francombe regretting that his (Situma) burial will be happening at a time Kenya will be seeking glory in a foreign land.

“Our trip to Kampala this weekend is clouded by sadness as we mourn the death of two rugby stalwarts. While we are excited, we would like to remember them and stand with their families.” Situma will be buried in Bungoma on Saturday. 

Kenya fifteens rugby team will travel to Kampala this weekend to play Uganda Rugby Cranes in the first leg of Elgon Cup with World Rugby ranking points at stake.

In a departure from the past two years, Kenya will field a full-strength squad against the Ugandans who have played a second-string Kenya A previously. Uganda returns to the Top Tier 1A and the match has been granted a Test Status by World Rugby.

Therefore, Jerome Paarwater, the Kenya XV head coach has a tricky match against the unpredictable Uganda at their backyard.

Simiyu explained Kenya named a strong team because of the elevation of the fixture to a Test match.

“Playing Uganda now brings about ranking since they have been admitted back to 1A. Are we ready to risk our ranking downwards by taking Kenya A? We are targeting to be among top 20 in the world and that will come through playing such matches,” Simiyu explained.

Kerre and Muniafu called up

Impala RFC’s duo of Simon Muniafu and Erick Kerre will make their international debut for the senior team. They are part of the 24-man squad which flies out on Thursday.

Simiyu said their inclusion and others was part of plan of establishing a large squad for long-term purposes. “From last year, we learned a lot about consistency. We have been slowly injecting the young lads who have been coming up in Kenya Cup,” he stated.

“This tells you that we have a plan for 2019 (world cup). This is a walk towards 2019 and the hard work begins this weekend.”

Strathmore’s Brian Nyikuli will captain the team for the second year with Impala’s Nato Simiyu and the Kang'ethe twins, James and Joseph from Kenya Harlequin FC returning.

Joshua Chisanga who plays for Newcastle Falcons in United Kingdom has club duties while Jacob Ojee is still recovering from a knee injury.

Uganda is not always an easy opponent for Kenya especially when playing at home. “They want to remain in 1A, they play with their hearts and beating them at home is always hard. With the exposure we have had, we want to go out there and play total rugby. We are ready for them,” Simiyu said.

“We are not taking Uganda lightly." 

This year, the women's Elgon Cup has been cancelled after Kenya failed to confirm sending a team because most of the players are in the seven-a-side team which made their debut in the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series. 

Squad

Forwards: Moses Amusala, Curtis Lilako (KCB), Joseph Kang'ethe, James Kang'ethe (Quins), Sammy Warui (Nakuru RFC), Peter Karia (KCB), Oliver Mang'eni (KCB), Simon Muniafu, Eric Kerre (Impala RFC): Backrow: Brian Nyikuli, Tony Owuor (Strathmore University), Mike Okombe (Nakuru RFC), Max Adaka (Kabras Sugar); Backs: Edwin Achayo (Kabras Sugar), Lyle Asiligwa ( Quins), Nato Simiyu (Impala RFC), Isaac Adimo (Quins), Nick Barasa (Kabras Sugar), David Ambunya (Quins), Darwin Mukidza (KCB), Dennis Muhanji (Quins), Vincent Mose (Impala RFC), Dan Sikuta (Mwamba RFC), Tony Onyango (Strathmore University); Management: Jerome Paarwater (Head Coach), Dominique Habimana (Assistant Coach), Richard Ochieng (S&C),Chris Makachia (Physiotherapist), Simiyu Wangila (Team Manager).